April 14, 2016

Micromax launches new logo, 15 phones in aggressive growth push

The Economic Times

Micromax, India's No. 2 smartphone brand, has unveiled a new logo and tagline, launched 15 handsets and its own ecommerce portal, marking an aggressive play to topple leader Samsung in India and setting itself on course to figure among the top five brands in the world by 2020.

The country's largest home-bred smartphone vendor, historically popular for its low-priced handsets, is pitching its focus on services as a key differentiator in an intensely competitive market where most players, especially Chinese and Indians, play the high specifications-at-a-low-price game to attract buyers.

"As we start the new journey, Micromax 3.0, we needed to signal the change to consumers...We can't keep on just making phones and not focus on services, not realign ourselves," co-founder Rahul Sharma said, underlining the reason behind the change in branding. "Times have changed, we're changing."

Besides changing its logo, Micromax also changed its tagline to 'Nuts, Guts, Glory' from 'Nothing like Anything'.

Brand consultant Harish Bijoor said with so many brands in the market, it is important to look contemporary at all times, more so as a larger segment of the target customers for Micromax are young. "The tagline would now go better with the brand ambassador Hugh Jackman."

In the fastest growing smartphone market worldwide, competition is fierce and Micromax has recognized that playing on price alone will not move the needle among consumers. Arch rival Samsung has introduced interesting features on phones across price points - Bike mode for low-priced J series, curved display for premium segment S7 series and VR (virtual reality) headsets to go with it. New entrants like Xiaomi and LeEco are either investing in content aggregators or are setting up their own content networks.

Experts say Micromax will have to fight the battle on many fronts including price, features and services, to emerge on top not just in India but more so globally where it trails the likes of Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, Lenovo, Huawei, players who are present in India too.

Sharma said the company aims to have 100 million connected devices by 2017 end, in a bid to be counted among the top five globally by 2020. "We will have to reach out to 2 billion people globally to be among the top five."

To build on its services play, Micromax will look at second-tranches of investment into the 10 startups including Ixigo and Scandid that it has already invested in, said Vikas Jain, another co-founder of Micromax. Services from these companies and new ones in which the company invests in will be integrated into the 'Around' platform, common to smartphones under Yu and Micromax devices.

Counterpoint Research's Tarun Pathak said the company wants to shed its image of a hardware player playing on pricing as a differentiator, going towards an ecosystem where its strengths of robust distribution and better market understanding will help. However, challenges remain.

"It needs aggressive push in $150-250 (Rs 10,000-16,500) segment, which will grow faster in the coming years and develop a strong service layer but recurring revenue on that services will be equally important," Pathak warned.

Micromax will also ramp up local manufacturing to five million units a month by the year end from the present two million across four plants, one of which is already operational.